One by one, they emerged from the forest edge onto the distant savanna, dark shadows moving with a lively bobbling gait. By the upright posture, the babies riding on the shoulders of adults, heads held high, these were likely gorillas. Binoculars confirmed my guess as a family of at least eight individuals struck off across the savanna, three infants riding bareback on the shoulders of three mothers, a juvenile, possibly two, racing ahead, and finally the immense silverback shuffling up from the rear. At four hundred meters, the shapes were easily identifiable as primate, though subsequent photographs left detail to be desired. The silverback paused midway across the savanna, sitting on his haunches while apparently waiting for a juvenile that had fallen behind. I could see it studying my shape far off across the savanna, but with distance and wind in my favor, it failed to alarm. The juvenile raced past the silverback, which then resumed a powerful shuffle at the back of the procession. They were entering into forest I had just left. Thinking they may circle north, I doubled back into this forest to find a hide on the edge of an internal savanna, waiting for two hours in hopes of another glimpse.
This is likely the family recorded on the camera traps I have set here, and I am pleased to see that the group is still present. I was returning from replacing batteries and memory cards on the two cameras in this forest. These cameras would later download to show the family recorded over several days in the past two weeks, passing back and forth before the lenses. In addition, sitatunga, chevrotain, porcupine, mangabeys, and elephants managed to record on the cameras. An impressive cast of characters to call this expanse of forest home.
Today the gorillas didn’t reappear as I waited, but it is enough to know they are nearby. They will hopefully return, and so will I.
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